Friday, June 13, 2014

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version

If you come to adulthood as an ardent lover of fairy tales, then this book may know your true name. An anthology of tales both familiar and somewhat obscure, these are not precisely the tales we all grew up on, but instead are more the tales that were before they were made modern-child-friendly. Of course, I pulled it down off a library shelf that was most assuredly not in the juvenile section, so that doesn't surprise me. In this compilation, Pullman not only takes the reader through the woods and into the realm of the classic fairy tale, but also journeys the extra mile, detailing common variations and explaining the origins of the stories that have so greatly influenced western literature.
I don't recommend a cover to cover read through of this gem. Pick up a tale, read it through. Set it down, let it roll around and stew. Come back to it and enjoy it some more, or else the overwhelming archetypes and formulaic plots may begin to wear you down. Don't blame Pullman, after all, these all started as folk tales. Be warned, these are not the coddled tales you watched as a child, nor are they the safe tales you might read to a small child at bedtime. These are simply fairy tales that speak to the collective unconscious and stir memories we forgot we had. Enjoy them.

Then when you're thoroughly steeped in fairy tales,the rich culture behind them, and the surprising crassness and brutality of them, I recommend picking up Jane Yolen's Briar Rose for something vaguely familiar, and yet completely different.

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